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Addiction and the question of use or abuse

pill in hand

pill in hand

When we speak of addiction we usually mean something destructive. We understand the malignant aspects as an integral part of the phenomena. To be addicted to something is per definition bad and something that should be avoided.

If you look up addiction in a dictionary you get the following definitions:
– Compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance
– The condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or involved in something

The latter is exemplified with fast cars, the former with heroin. And I suppose it’s a pretty accurate way to describe the variations of the phenomena called addiction. Compulsive being the operative word in both cases. But how do you end up there? In the compulsive state? In the case of heroin the addictive qualities of the substance itself is usually put forth as the main cause of the compulsion. Heroin causes addiction, that’s what we’re told. If you want to be a bit more precise the addictive aspect lies in the fact that regular heroin use increases your tolerance level, you have to constantly up the dose to achieve the same effect, and it also causes a physical dependence, your body craves it. When it comes to substances those two aspects are what determine if the substance is addictive; increased tolerance and physical dependence. So how does that relate to the fast cars? Well, I suppose one could argue that you need to “up the dose” here too, it takes more to get the same fix, but the whole physical dependence is obviously not applicable. In the case of the cars it’s all on a psychological level.

Yes, there are of course different types of addictions, some of which have to do with things you put in your body and some that only have to do with experience. The common denominator being the whole compulsive aspect. Compulsive indicates that there’s a lack of free will involved. If we go to the dictionary this is what we find:
– The state of being compelled
– An irresistible impulse to act, regardless of the rationality of the motivation
So it has to do with rationality, or rather the lack thereof. Again a rather fitting definition, because most heroin addicts probably know that their addiction isn’t rational. Especially since there is a definite criminal aspect tied to the use of this particular substance. But what about the cars? Or indeed any non substance related addiction? Or addiction to substances that aren’t actually illegal? The experience and the physical aspects are certainly part of it as well as that lack of rationality, but to me the most interesting part of this is where to draw the line. When does a passion become an addiction? When does use become addiction? Read more of this post

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